At the home of a man who helped start America, an American journey begins.

Standing before friends and family, 79 people from 36 nations took an oath Thursday morning to become citizens of the United States.

"I think I'm going to have one heck of a party this afternoon, just to celebrate the fact that I've reached the finish line," said Susanne Ebling, an immigrant from Germany who now lives in Nelson County.

"It means a lot to me," Ebling said.  "I've met a lot of very generous Americans who became role models and embraced me."

Jasmin Darznik has waited 34 years for this day.  Her family brought her to the United States from Iran when she was just a small child.

"It's incredibly charged for me," Darznik said.  "I feel like it's an affirmation an identity I've had for many years."

Naturalization ceremonies normally take place in a court room.

Monticello is one of the few places where the event happens outside.
Every year on July 4th, new Americans are welcomed on Thomas Jefferson's west lawn.

This year they were greeted by a fellow immigrant, the musician Dave Matthews, who moved to America from South Africa.

"This is a nation of immigrants," Matthews told the new citizens at Thursday's ceremony.  "You left your language and your culture to come here and today this country acknowledges that you are now as American as anyone."